Visitors may be tempted to skip Amman and head straight to Petra or Wadi Rum. But Jordan’s capital city — home to historical sites, colorful markets, and zaki treats — is buzzing with influences from the ancient and modern cultures of its four million residents. A free day in Amman is the perfect opportunity to explore Roman ruins, local art, and Arab cuisine while experiencing a slice of city life.
Here are five ways to spend your day in Amman:
Free Day in Amman: Take a guided walking tour
Hit the ground running on arrival with a walking tour of Al Balad — the old downtown area of Amman. You can explore the sites and shops on your own. But a guide can offer important historical context, cultural insight, and, of course, lead you to the best shai (tea), qawah (coffee), and kunafeh (our favorite Middle Eastern dessert). A guide can also help you haggle for souvenirs in the local shops.
Free Day in Amman: Learn to cook like a localParticipant talks with chef at Beit Sitti
The kitchen is the heart of the Jordanian home. Spend some time in a local kitchen in Amman and learn about Arab cuisine from the chefs at Beit Sitti. This family-run cooking school and restaurant is housed in an old villa in the artsy Al Webdeh neighborhood and run by three sisters who work to keep their grandmother’s legacy alive through her recipes. Join a group or book a private session for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You’ll chop, blend, and cook locally-sourced ingredients with the guidance of knowledgeable chefs before sitting down (on the terrace when weather permits) to sample your work.
Free Day in Amman: Go on an art crawl
Feed your soul (and exercise your body — this city is built on hills, after all) with an art crawl. Amman is home to numerous galleries featuring local Jordanian art, and pieces created by Arab and international artists. Many of the galleries — like Darat Al Funun — are free of charge, and some, such as Dar Al-Anda, have open-air terraces with city views. If you find yourself at the National Gallery of Fine Arts, be sure to visit the top floor for a specialty coffee and locally-made snacks at Jungle Fever.
Jordan’s national dish mansaf is a must try on a Jordan tour.Free Day in Amman: Taste your way around town
You can easily fill your day tasting your way around Amman: A falafel sandwich for breakfast (try Al Quds on Rainbow Street — even the King of Jordan has eaten here), shish taouk or kebab for lunch (Kababji is a great choice and has several locations), and the Jordanian national dish, mansaf, for dinner (we recommend Sufra on Rainbow Street or Al Quds on Ali Ben Abi Taleb St). Sample spices and fruits from the downtown markets. Sip a mint tea or Turkish coffee from one of the streetside cafés. And save room for dessert — fresh kunafeh at Habibah is a must.